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Give Them Some Credit

Terps Create App to Improve Credit Scores

By Sala Levin ’10

Credit App

Illustration by Steffanie Espat

Illustration by Steffanie Espat

For David Potter ’18 and Abb Kapoor ’18, rejection was the mother of invention. The pair had roomed together freshman year and wanted to share an off-campus apartment sophomore year, but one apartment application after another was denied. “There was no way around it,” says Potter. “It was because of our credit score.”

GroupTheir solution? Create an app that would help them—and others—learn how to raise their credit score and develop healthier spending habits, including establishing credit to begin with and avoiding overspending on credit.

The result was Curu, a portmanteau of “credit guru,” which Potter, a finance and marketing double major, and Kapoor, an electrical engineering major, hope to roll out publicly later this spring. Last month, they won $15,000 in UMD’s annual Pitch Dingman competition, in which students compete for startup funding. 

Before getting started, Potter and Kapoor became certified credit consultants and certified credit score consultants through the Credit Consultants Association, learning the ins and outs of the financial world. “People don’t understand credit, but they also don’t want to go out of their way to understand credit,” says Kapoor. “Our foundation was that we’ve found the best way to accommodate people’s habits and give them the best credit score possible.”

For now, Curu focuses on automating credit card payments and offering strategies for paying off credit cards and improving credit scores. In the future, the pair hopes that the free app will include options to automate payments for mortgages, car loans, utility bills and more. 

Curu will also market financial products and services offered by partners like banks and credit card companies. “Our goal is to improve your credit score, so you’re only going to see the credit cards that are best for you,” says Kapoor. “If you travel a lot, we’re going to show you only the best air miles cards, and you’re not going to see anything else.” 

The app’s primary audience is young people who lack experience with or knowledge about credit. “When you graduate school, you haven’t typically been trained in credit, and that means you’re going to be paying sky-high interest rates or not even get approved when it comes to housing or transportation,” says Potter. “That isn’t a life that any of us want to live.”

To make the app a reality, Potter and Kapoor assembled a team of five friends to help them work on marketing, technology and data. They’ve taken online courses in order to spend 10 to 12 hours a day having meetings, ironing out technical glitches, creating social media marketing campaigns and more. 

Potter and Kapoor are also traveling around the country in hopes of learning more about entrepreneurship and securing funding for Curu. For a month, they shared an Airbnb RV (“It was a good experience, but I don’t ever want to live that close to David again,” says Kapoor) in Silicon Valley, where they networked with other entrepreneurs.

This semester, Potter and Kapoor are living in Charlotte, N.C., while taking part in a program offered by an accelerator focused on financial technology. (Online courses enable the duo to be away from College Park.) The program will provide them office space for the next year while they pursue seed money.

The Pitch Dingman judges are confident in the team’s ability to succeed. “As a marketer, I’m always listening for whether the entrepreneur understands what matters to his target audience and can explain his solution in terms of what they care about, not what he wants to say,” says Liz Sara, managing director of Best Marketing and chair of the Dingman Center board of advisors. “That is something most founders struggle to get right. The Curu team, however, has done a great job at this.”

Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Strategic Communications for the University of Maryland community weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.